If you're not tracking or measuring your customer support, how can you evaluate what worked and what didn't? This goes along with the words of Peter Drucker, founding father of modern management studies: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” For example, if you’re baking a cake, you need to know what to measure and how to measure it in order to have a delicious baked good this round, as well as even better results for your next batch. Translated into business terms, having specific metrics for your customer service - known as key performance indicators (KPIs) - could arguably be the most important ingredient in your company’s success.
The catch? In the world of metrics, there are endless KPIs that can be used to evaluate your customer support efforts. From graphs to Excel sheets flooded with numbers, the possibilities can sometimes appear more overwhelming than helpful. Although a powerful help desk software is certainly an excellent tool for tracking support performance, it’s just as important to have a solid understanding of the importance of KPIs for your business. The following advice will assist you with figuring out what KPIs you should track to continuously improve your customer service.
Overall customer satisfaction
At the end of the day, it all comes down to customer satisfaction. Why? This important measurement can make or break the overall success of any business. The most common method of collecting this type of data is by requesting customer feedback about your product or service. For example, you can send an email with an attached survey asking recipients to rate their level of satisfaction on a scale from 1 to 5 or by adding a customized signature to support emails for them to respond with one of the presented emojis ranging from happy to angry. Some call centers, for example, will send an online survey post-call to review how helpful the customer believed their interaction was with that service provider.
The disadvantage of the questionnaire approach is that it’s highly subjective. It is difficult to control whether your customers are able to objectively evaluate their own feelings. Moreover, there may also be a bias as over-excited and infuriated customers would both naturally be the ones more inclined to respond to these types of surveys and leave feedback anyways. To fight these biases, make sure the survey is short (1 minute or less to fill out) and sweet. Additionally, adding a “submit anonymously” option will allow you to gather more honest and candid responses as people feel they are not held accountable for their answers. One thing to consider about private surveys is that although they do paint a picture on the general issue, it does not shed light on individual details. Also, keep in mind that timing is everything. Therefore, you should send your questionnaire within 24 hours of speaking to the customer to give them an appropriate amount of time and space to be able to collect their thoughts.
The above options are only a small handful of ways to measure customer satisfaction. No KPI is perfect, but it will allow you to gain insights through these responses. Once you’ve experimented with different methods, you’ll be able to focus on one way and segment it - for example, dividing the users into groups such as highly satisfied versus dissatisfied. From here, you can choose to implement changes to your customer support or follow up with the user for additional information.
First contact resolution
First contact resolution, or FCR, is your support team’s ability to properly assist the customer the first time around, without them returning for additional help. Basically, this means your representatives resolved the issue on the first go whether through a call, ticket or chat. This metric is measured by percentage - the higher, the better. Keep in mind, FCR can vary depending on the complexity of your product or service, as well as the overall level of agent efficiency. Whatever the case, your FCR is dependent on your customer support teams efforts and continuous evaluation on a regular basis.
There are several ways to track FCR. One of the most popular ones is to conduct a survey that asks if the problem was resolved immediately, i.e., “Did we resolve your issue the first time you contacted us?” A more precise alternative is analyzing tickets and calls through your help desk software. This can give insight on whether or not the situation was taken care of properly during the first interaction, and shed light on what should be improved for the future. Through analyzing support requests, you’ll be able to narrow down the issues that were not solved initially, whether it was an agent’s responsibility or a complex issue that required asking the user for more information. If you’re still not seeing an improvement, you may want to revamp your knowledge base articles based on an FCR analysis or even apply customer feedback directly to your product or service.
First response time
Your customers expect lightning speed answers, which is where the first response time plays a significant role. This metric is the number of minutes, hours, or days between when a client submits a support ticket and when your support team provides an initial response. Measuring your first response time is invaluable because it demonstrates to your customers how responsive you are at tending to their needs and allows them to build trust in your company.
How can you reduce first response time? Here are a few useful methods for lowering your reply time:
Implement a customer service software: Still at the stages of answering customers by email? You may want to consider having a powerful help desk software to improve your response time and have all customer conversations neatly stored in one place. By doing so, you’ll get an overlook at their account, what products or services they use, and additional information to enable your support team to provide fast and top-notch support. Yes, this is a massive change for your customer service and may take time for your support team to get adjusted to - but remember, it is only temporary. Additionally, the methods listed below can be easily used with a help desk software.
FIFO (first in, first out): Similar to when customers form queues while waiting for service, your support team should handle the oldest tickets first based on when each client submitted their initial request. This is especially important for those waiting hours, or even days, for an answer to their issue. Depending on your business model, product or service, you may want to handle older tickets from paying versus free customers. Start by mapping out call volume and experiment to get a feel for what works for your business.
Allocate resources: If you’re feeling the ticket and call volume heat, you can assign different representatives to specific products or channels in your help desk software to handle customer requests in a timely and organized manner. Reversely, the longer it takes your customer to receive the initial response, the more time they will have to find additional ways to grab your attention, or simply abandon your business and move on to another.
Saved replies: Your support team is aware that different customers will ask the same question multiple times, which means more work for your representatives to type the that response over and over again. With Wix Answers, you can create pre-written common client response templates to increase efficiency and simplify your workflow. Then, add those responses into customer replies through a simple hashtag # or button - a process that will save you minutes per each encounter.
Call processing time
If your business offers a powerful built-in call center, this KPI is essential for tracking the average call duration from the initiation of the call to any hold and conversation time until the end of the call. Although this is a significant measurement of efficiency, it can come with its downfalls. A classic example of this is when a customer calls inquiring about several issues. Not only will this increase processing time, it may require considerable hand-holding, such as sharing your screen with the user to walking them through the issue. As a business, this can be a double-edged sword. In other words, focusing too much on lowering the agent’s processing time can help your team assist more customers, but it will likely reduce the quality of the service provided.
There are a few methods to keep in mind in order to reduce call processing time. First, make sure your customer service staff are trained properly, whether it is finding information quickly or being knowledgeable in certain products or services. If you are using a powerful customer support software, you can use recorded calls too as a training tool to get a better idea of how customers react and engage in conversation. Moreover, educating agents on how to drive a call in the right direction to avoid the customer from going off on a tangent can be a beneficial skill. Secondly, self-service content can help both agents and customers find the answers they are looking for. For instance, after your agents have completed calls, they will be able to send clients helpful knowledge base articles for further assistance. While reducing this time-focused metric is important, remember quality is what separates ordinary from extraordinary customer service.
Your companies support representatives are the fundamental building blocks of your customer support. Not only are they extremely talented, but they are also the ones handling calls, answering tickets and providing quality answers and indispensable knowledge to your clients. As the direct line of communication to your customers, they will often serve as both the first impression to the customer of your company as well as become the only point of contact. One study by MetricNet found that agent satisfaction has a direct impact on client satisfaction and that fewer than 30 percent of companies track this metric. For these reasons, agent satisfaction is commonly overlooked and should be placed high on the KPI pedestal.
Satisfied agents are eager to provide valuable work as they tend to feel more connected to the growth of the company and understand that their input is vital to its overall success. Happy agents, like happy customers, will find a sense of pride in supporting your business. Interactions with clients will then become enthusiastic, such as “how can I help to make this right?” instead of a monotoned “is that all?” And it goes without saying that when employees are satisfied, they want to show up.
On the opposite end of the stick, unsatisfied agents will leave you with a high turnover rate and unscheduled personal days off, lowering overall productivity and morale as a whole for the team. If you are experiencing this, try empowering agents through training and providing new and exciting opportunities to motivate your support team, such as focused research projects.
There is no definite way to measure agent satisfaction. However, you can achieve interesting results with some creativity and the use of existing methods. Some basic practices include:
Weekly 1-on-1 meetings with a manager or HR specialist to discuss development and overall satisfaction.
Sending surveys, with a quantifiable scale, to agents with questions such as “how happy are you to come to work each day?” and “do you appreciate your teammates?”
Team building exercises to get to know your fellow employees, collaborate, improve communication and overall morale.
Career development and growth based on potential opportunities within the company.
By adding agent satisfaction to the KPI equation, you’ll not only improve efficiency, but also long-term success.
Let’s put these five KPIs into practice:
If we think about it this way, it is quite easy to grasp the most important KPIs to measure and why they are so essential. Take, for example, a customer support software at an eCommerce high tech company. The client opens a ticket through your contact page regarding a failed checkout experience. From the moment they arrive to the moment they receive support determines whether they have grown increasingly anxious to receive help, or whether they are impressed at your companies ability to assist them quickly (First response time). No one wants to wait in line, and this could result in a decreased overall customer satisfaction. Additionally, your support representatives will use their knowledge from agent training sessions to provide the best experience possible. Whether it’s through asking the right questions or steering the customer in the right direction, your staff will feel more motivated to come to work each day with smiles on their faces (Agent satisfaction).
Now that the customer has arrived, it's time for your team to provide assistance. It goes without saying that when customers go to a help desk, they expect to receive answers to their questions or solutions to their problem on the first go (First contact resolution). If the customer receives assistance, but then has to return for additional help with the same problem, you have now lost valuable resources that could’ve been used to assist a new customer. As first impressions are everything, provide complete and professional assistance on the first customer interaction.
The call duration with a customer will also determine overall customer satisfaction (Call processing time). Having longer interactions at the help desk is neither fun for the customer or the support agent. Your patrons want quick and reliable solutions to their problems, and your support team want to provide quality answers in a timely manner. After the issue is handled, collecting feedback on the interaction will provide your business with valuable insights, such as client satisfaction with help received, client decision to return later for a purchase, and more. (Overall customer satisfaction).
It’s important to make sure KPIs are parallel to your company’s objective. While there are multiple ways to measure your customer service efforts, combining different metrics is an important standard across many successful companies.
Ready to see how your customer service measures up? Get started with the best help desk software today.